Train passengers would soon be able to order food through a WhatsApp number, with an interactive Artificial Intelligence-enabled chatbot handling their queries on e-catering and booking meals. The Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) is already delivering meals on certain routes through WhatsApp number +91 8750001323.
"WhatsApp communication for e-catering services implemented on selected trains and passengers. Based on customer feedback and suggestions, the company will enable the same on other trains," the Railways said in a statement on Monday. The IRCTC has started e-catering services through a specially developed website www.catering.irctc.co.in as well its e-catering app 'Food on Track', it said.
The implementation of e-catering services through WhatsApp was envisaged in two phases. The first phase has already been implemented, Under this, a business WhatsApp number sends a message to the customers booking e-ticket for opting in e-catering services by clicking on www.ecatering.irctc.co.in.
They are then enables to book meals of their choice from the restaurants of their choice available at stations enroute directly through the e-catering website of IRCTC without even requiring to download the App. The next phase is when the interactive WhatsApp meal booking and delivery are planed.
Under this, the WhatsApp number will be enabled to become an interactive two way communication platform for the customer wherein an AI-powered chatbot will handle all queries of e-catering services for the passengers and book meals for them. Currently, approximately 50,000 meals are being served in a day to the customers through IRCTC’s e-catering services enabled through its website as well as app.